Elite Athlete Development Programme Media Release
Weber overcomes odds as Olympic
dream becomes reality
Durban – Trials and tribulations have haunted talented
Durban-based long distance swimmer, Michelle Weber throughout her
life and whilst these obstacles have been difficult to overcome,
Weber recently cast them aside as she qualified for the 10km open
water swim at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Having become the first South African woman to win the aQuellé
Midmar Mile women’s race in 13 years in February, there was
little doubt that Weber was a world beater heading into the
recent FINA Marathon Swimming Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament
in Portugal this past weekend.
The Portuguese event however represented one final Olympic
qualification opportunity and gave the Elite Athlete Development
Programme swimmer one last, high pressured shot at qualifying for
Team South Africa’s campaign in Brazil in August.
“I cannot believe that I have qualified for the Olympic Games!”
an elated Weber mentioned on her return to South Africa. “It is
still sinking in that I am going to my first Games and I am just
so stoked that all went according to plan.”
“The international girls are really tough and strong and there is
always a chance that something could go wrong during the race
which would mean you are out of contention, so I am just really
happy that I had the perfect race.”
The past three years have been a challenge for the Umhlanga
resident after a debilitating heart problem forced her to give up
swimming for two months while also having to face various other
testing obstacles throughout her young life.
“My mum has had cancer three times and has just finished
chemotherapy and is about to start radiation therapy, which has
really knocked me emotionally.
“In 2013 I was diagnosed with a heart condition where my heart
rate would shoot right up when I was training, which meant I had
to spend ages recovering and I knew that I had to have an
operation to rectify it.
“Overcoming my heart problem as well as using my mum as an
example of strength and courage has helped me in my swimming
while I also try channel these experiences to make me a stronger
athlete, especially because I owe my mum so much,” an
appreciative Weber explained.
With the Games’ opening ceremony just two months away, Weber’s
final preparations have begun in earnest as she looks to
contribute towards the South African swimming team’s medal
“I will meet up with Graham Hill and his swimmers in Italy and
then we move on to Miami in July before heading across to Rio a
few weeks before the Olympics to get acclimatised and prepared in
“There won’t be another chance for me to race a 10km event
because it’s too taxing on the body and I need a few days to
recover after events so my next 10km race will be at the
Olympics!” she added.
Following her encouraging performance in Portugal last weekend,
the dream of adding an Olympic medal to her ever-increasing tally
of achievements is not out the question however Weber’s
expectations are not getting the better of her just yet.
“The Olympics is something that I have dreamt about for years!
“I have thought about what I could achieve at these Games and I
think that a top five would be a really good achievement – I
would be happy with that.
“There are only 25 swimmers that compete in the 10km event at the
Olympics so I am going to give my all and I know that I will be
mentally and physically prepared for the race.
“Who knows, if I have a good swim there could be a medal there
for me!” Weber remarked confidently.
The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sport and Recreation supported
Elite Athlete Development Programme has proved Weber with the
guidance and support that she has needed over the past year of
“The EADP has helped tremendously over the past year and my
biokineticist, Jarryd Rudolph has been incredible in helping me
with my workout routine and programme and I am really grateful
for all the team at Prime do for me,” she concluded.
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Despite having to
deal with a number of obstacles in her quest, Elite Athlete
Development Programme superstar Michelle Weber overcame these
hurdles to qualify for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in the
Women's 10km Open Water Swim.
Jetline Action Photo/
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